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How To Prepare Chaga Tea and Tincture

As you will read in our Chaga Health Benefits post, chaga contains many healthy bioactive ingredients that can improve our overall health.

But how do we prepare chaga to get the most from it and extract and consume all these healthy ingredients?

This post explains how to prepare chaga by covering the two main preparation/extraction methods and a delicious recipe for each one.

Before you get started, you will obviously need some chaga to begin with! If you plan on buying some, please click here to check out our Buying Guide.

Why Do We Need To Prepare Chaga?

Locked inside the cell walls of chaga are all the healthy bioactive ingredients, such as the beta-glucans.

These cell walls are made of chitin, which is the hardest all-natural material known to man and, therefore, indigestible without proper preparation.

This means that an extraction process is required in order to release these bioactive ingredients and to prepare chaga for human consumption.

What Are The Extraction Methods?

There are two main methods to prepare chaga at home, each having its own pros & cons. Let's look at both...

1

Hot Water Extraction: Chaga Tea

Hot water extraction is the most common, easiest and cheapest method to prepare chaga.

It’s similar to the traditional tea-making process, whereby the chaga chunks or powder are steeped in hot water for a period of time, strained and then drunk as a tea.

When using this method, all the water-soluble components, such as the polyphenols and beta-glucans, will be present in the resulting extract.

However, water-insoluble components, such as phytosterols, and betulinic acid will be missing.

Although I personally love drinking a good chaga tea, and it’s still very healthy, missing out on these healthy bioactive ingredients is a big loss.

2

Double Extraction: Chaga Tincture

Another way to prepare chaga is by making a tincture. A tincture is an alcoholic derivative of a plant, mushroom or herb.

Tinctures are more effective in extracting the medicinal components and preserving them for longer periods of time.

Tinctures are also useful because they're simple to use, quickly absorbed, and easily added to recipes, drinks, etc.

A tincture uses the alcohol extraction method. This method extracts some of the water-insoluble components, such as betulinic acid, and phytosterols that the hot water extraction alone cannot do.

This extraction process is generally used in combination with hot-water extraction since alcohol alone will not break down chitin effectively.

Chaga Recipes

Before we get started - Cleaning and Drying

Before we can begin any Chaga recipe, raw unprocessed Chaga must first have any parts of the tree bark removed.

It then needs to be chopped into smaller chunks and dried. It can then be left as chunks or ground into a powder, depending on how you want to use it.

If you're buying processed Chaga from a reputable supplier, this part is most likely taken care of.

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Simple Chaga Tea Recipe

This is a really simple but delicious way to consume chaga. You can drink it straight away or use it as a base for other chaga tea based recipes.

Ingredients

Instructions

1. Break up the chaga into smaller chunks, roughly 1 inch in size.

​2. In a 1 liter pot of water, drop in a handful of chunks and bring to a boil.

3. Let the chaga chunks simmer until the water turns a reddish brown color, or at least an hour to extract more of the bioactive ingredients.

4. Strain the tea into a mug and add some maple syrup or honey to taste.​

You can reuse the chaga chunks several times before they start to lose their strength. Simply put them in a mason jar without a lid, and store in the fridge.

For other mushroom tea recipes, check out this post.​

Chaga Tincture Recipe

WARNING! This recipe requires a lot of patience and has plenty of steps. However, we believe it's worth the wait. If you don't have the patience for this recipe, check out ORIVeDA's Chaga Extract which actually extracts far more bioactive ingredients than any tincture could ever deliver.

Ingredients

  • Sayan Chaga Chunks. Use enough to almost fill a one-gallon jar after it's ground into a powder.
  • At least 100 proof vodka, but the stronger the better!

Instructions

The recipe below combines both the alcohol (part 1) and hot water (part 2) extraction methods and requires a lot of patience.

Note that this recipe is based upon a 1-gallon size jar of tincture but any size jar will do. Just try to keep the ratio of chaga to alcohol the same. However, given that it takes so long to make, it makes sense to make it in large batches.

If you don't feel you have the time or patience for the recipe below, but still want to experience all the health benefits of dual extract chaga, we recommend you check out the offer below:

Part 1 - Preparing the Chaga and Alcohol Extraction

1. Break up the chaga into smaller chunks, roughly 1 inch in size.

2. Grind the pieces into a powder. You can use a coffee/spice grinder or a good blender to do this.

3. Almost fill a 1-gallon glass jar with the chaga powder, BUT leave close to 2 inches of room at the top.

4. Fill up the rest of the jar with vodka.

5. Let it sit for at least 8 weeks and shake the jar every day.

Part 2 - Hot Water Extraction

1. After at least 8 weeks, strain out the alcohol into another glass jar using a cheesecloth.

2. Put the chaga into a clay pot.

3. Measure an amount of water equal to alcohol that was strained in step 1.

4. Pour the water into the pot of chaga and then use a wooden chopstick to measure the water level. Use a sharp knife to mark the exact water level on the chopstick. This is where you want the final water level to be after the decoction is complete. Fill the pot with twice that amount of water.

5. Bring the pot to boil and let it simmer on low heat.

6. Keep checking the water level with the chopstick. When the water level is the same or less than the mark on the chopstick, take it off the heat and let it cool.

7. The next day, add more water and do another decoction. Repeat for a total of three decoctions.

8. Once the third decoction is finished, let it cool. Then mix the decoction with the alcohol saved from earlier and store in a glass jar.

That's it, you now have a Chaga Tincture! Note: 1tsp is enough to add to a single 8oz drink.

Summary

My hope is that you now understand why chaga needs to be prepared properly and the difference between the various extraction methods. This amazing mushroom really needs to be treated properly in order to get the most out of it.

If you're looking for more chaga recipes than the two provided above, don't forget to download our FREE Chaga recipes book. Simply click the green button below to receive your free copy.

Chaga Recipes

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  • Ryan Pels

    Because the process of alcohol extract is so long can one first do the water extract and then start the alcohol extract. Thanks in advance for any and all advice, Ryan…

    • Hi Ryan, thanks for the great question. I have to say that all the recipes I’ve tried and seen, all do the alcohol/ethanol extraction first. I did find the recipe attached that I’d like to try, and it does reduce the waiting time somewhat. However, he still does the alcohol extraction first. Hope this helps.

      http://www.plantbasedrunners.com/blog/making-a-chaga-mushroom-ethanol-extraction/

      • Gazza

        You can also consider using organic grape alcohol for a Chaga dual/triple extract in Birch Water!!

  • Hi Ryan, thanks for the great question. I have to say that all the recipes I’ve tried and seen, all do the alcohol/ethanol extraction first. I did find the recipe attached that I’d like to try, and it does reduce the waiting time somewhat. However, he still does the alcohol extraction first. Hope this helps.

    http://www.plantbasedrunners.com/blog/making-a-chaga-mushroom-ethanol-extraction/

  • Brandon

    Hi there! I have chaga powder that I ordered from a herb store. When I make the tincture first because its already broken down does it still need to sit for 8 weeks or is 2 weeks ok? Also when doing the ratio of herb to alcohol should it be 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, etc..

    • Hi Brandon, thanks for the question! How do you mean it’s already been broken down? Do you just mean its been ground into a powder? If so, that just means you can skip steps 1 and 2 in part 1, but you would still need to wait the 8 weeks. When it comes to the ratio of chaga to alcohol, I don’t have an exact number for you, but I will work it out the next time I make the tincture again. For now, I just leave roughly 2 inches of space within a 1 gallon jar for the alcohol. BTW, I just updated the recipe to hopefully make it a bit clearer.

  • Annette

    Hi ! Thanks for the great directions for the chaga tincture recipe….it worked great !
    I would like to know if I can still use the chaga after I’ve made the 3 decoctions tincture and…how to use it .Thanks !

    • Hi Annette, I’m so pleased that this recipe worked out well for you! It’s great to hear this kind of feedback. Anyway, I’ve never reused the chaga after making the tincture, as most of the bioactive ingredients should have been extracted during this process.

  • Hailey

    Hi, what are your thoughts on using apple cider vinegar instead of alcohol for the tincture? Would the vinegar still make the phytosterols and betulinic acids biologically available?

    • Sorry Hailey, I haven’t found any research about whether apple cider vinegar would do the job. If you find something, please let us all know.

  • Jennifer Hochstetler

    Why use a clay pot? Is there a specific need for this? I ask because I have an induction stove, and I can only use cookware made of ferrous metal.

    • Hi Jennifer, clay is just my preference, so by all means, try using other cookware and let me know how it goes…

      • Jennifer Hochstetler

        I have some tinctures going right now, but we just came back from a trip up North, and I got more. I can hardly wait to begin. Thank you for all your help!!

        • Looks great, thanks for sharing!

  • Elisabeth

    Hello Russ. Thank you for this great recipe – but I goofed it! I measured the alcohol, then poured it back in with the chaga and then added the water and set it to boil. A few hours later I re-read the recipe and realized my error. Have I ruined it? I really appreciate your reply. Also, when it says to mark the stick and then “add twice the water” does that mean to the mark on the stick? or say i started with 4 cups. Another 4 cups? I did not have room to add 2x the water at the stick mark. Maybe without the alcohol in there I would have! Thanks so much for a reply.

    • Doug McEvoy

      You have not ruined it but you won’t have all of the beneficial compounds. Some of the compounds brought out in the alcohol tincture degrade in the boil of the decoction. To be honest there really should be another step to the decoction. In the first three decoctions you really should not boil. Then you should do a final decoction at full boil and continue to boil down to almost a syrup. This final boil will bring out compounds that can only be extracted at a boil which would degrade some compounds brought out in the 3 decoction step which really should not exceed 180°.

      • Diane Couture

        Hello Doug!! I am wondering if I did this right.The sap may still have been running. Its still cool it goes down to -1 celsius but than up to 10 plus. Is this ok to pick it? Which I already have.Also what about storing. I’ve read somewhere to store in the fridge after drying. I also read to freeze in freezer. So put in ziplock freezer bags and stored. Is this all ok? What do you think?

  • Chris

    Hi,
    Thanks for the recipe. I’m hoping you can clear up my confusion since you are just about the only person providing a recipe that has even mentioned the chitin!
    You said alcohol doesn’t effectively break up the chitin. How do the water insoluble components such as betulin get released if you put the Chaga in alcohol before you break up the chitin in hot water? Wouldn’t you have to put the Chaga back into the alcohol after the hot water extraction to pull betulin out? Thanks again.

  • Tim

    Hi Russ,
    I just discovered the beneficial properties of this wonderful mushroom and to top it all off, I am surrounded by thousands of white and yellow birch. I went for a short hunt in the woods yesterday and was keeping an eye out for Chaga. I found one on a white birch and harvested about 8-10 lbs from it, leaving a healthy portion for future use. My question to you is concerning the outer black section. I watched a video where the guy ued wood grater to scrape it all off until just a brown color remained and yet in other research, there is no mention of it being removed? I would tend to think that since it is part of the mushroom, there must be benefits to it?

    • Marty G

      Hey Tim,

      I’ve talked to a couple people that said to use the black outer part as much as possible because it contains a lot of melanin and some more concentrated ingredients. I cut off any bad looking, gooey spots, or where there were bugs/spiders living. Other than that, it sounds like you should use it all.. Just figured I’d chime in on this, haha! 😉

      Marty

      • Doug McEvoy

        I agree Marty. While many sites say to discard black layer it does contain high concentrations of some of the desirable compounds, especially melatonin. You do want to remove any parts with embeded bark.

      • Doug McEvoy

        I never remove black part.

  • jay

    Greetings, I have a large specimen of chaga that was air dried next to a wood burning stove for a few weeks, it then sat for about 1-2 months as dried large chunks, is it presumably still safe and/or worthwhile to use? Was planning on using this specimen for simple tea. My other concern, will bringing the water to a boil cause the good components of chaga to be destroyed?

    • Doug McEvoy

      You have not harmed the chaga by powdering it but I bet your arm is tired! A coffee grinder does the same. Actually the finer the powder the more effective the extraction.

      As for drying, if storing for a even a short time before use, in chunk or powder form, chaga should be dried to prevent secondary fungal contamination. In powder form, spred out as you did, it should be dry in just a few days. In chunk form it can be sun-dried in golfball sized chunks in a few days if it is not humid. If humidity is high, try it in an oven or food dehydrator not allowing the temp to exceed 180° as some beneficial componds can be destroyed by higher temps.

    • Doug McEvoy

      I would say if your chaga is dried it will keep a very long time if kept dry. As for boiling, yes it is not in my opinion the best option to bring to a boil in the first 3 decoctions. Temps over 180° can degrade some beneficial compounds. However some compounds require a boil and a hard boil at that. These are very important cancer fighting compounds. I would follow this recipe, avoiding a boil in the first 3 decoctions, then do another with enough water to fill the pot to be double the volume of your chaga. In other words 2 to 1 ratio of water volume to chaga volume. Bring to a full rolling boil for five minutes. Then bring down to a gentle boil until about 2/3 of the water is gone. Drain off water and use a cheese cloth to squeeze out remaking liquid from the chaga, adding it to the rest of the water from this step. Let this decoction cool before adding it to the liquid from the previous 3 step process.

  • Dana

    I harvested some chaga today and wanted to start the tincture process. I wrapped several chunks in a towel and began breaking it down with a hammer. Well, I got a little carried away and before long it was a powder. First, have I ruined it? And second, do I need to let it completely dry before starting the process or can I go ahead with it? I currently have it airing out on a cookie sheet. Thanks, Dana

    • Doug McEvoy

      You have not harmed the chaga by powdering it but I bet your arm is tired! A coffee grinder does the same. Actually the finer the powder the more effective the extraction.

      As for drying, if storing for a even a short time before use, in chunk or powder form, chaga should be dried to prevent secondary fungal contamination. In powder form, spred out as you did, it should be dry in just a few days. In chunk form it can be sun-dried in golfball sized chunks in a few days if it is not humid. If humidity is high, try it in an oven or food dehydrator not allowing the temp to exceed 180° as some beneficial componds can be destroyed by higher temps.

      • Dana

        Thanks Doug. On the cookie sheet, I popped it in the oven and just left the light on. It was dry in no time. Yesterday marked the 8th week soaking in vodka. Couple of questions. How much water do I start with? For example, if I have 20oz of vodka after straining. Then I put the chaga into a pot with 20oz of water. Measure that level and add 20 more ounces or 40 more before boiling? It’s the ‘fill the pot with twice’ that’s a little confusing. Can you boil again once cooled, or should you wait until the next day? If the next day, can it sit on the stove or should it be refrigerated? And finally, how long can the product be stored for and does it require refrigeration? Sorry for all the questions.. first tincture process. Thanks again and Cheers!

  • Saw a piece on new hampshire chronicle on wmur about chaga and am amazed to hear it’s available in my own woods! I always thought the chaga was a terrible infection by a junk growth. I am going to start harvesting immediately!!!

    • Jamie Graper

      Please only harvest what you need and make sure it is dry before you put it in a closed container or it will mold.

  • SFAV

    my friend turned me on to this article12 days ago I started drink and Chaga tea since then my eczema has cleared up and my chronic sciatic nerve pain has resolved.I feel like I have inner energy from the Tea. I live in the quiet corner of Connecticut which is the very north east corner. I have been able to find it in this area on the birch trees.I found about 10 pounds worth it took myself , my wife, my friend, and my 3 boy’s 5 hrs of hiking to find it. I am really interested in making the tincture. I read the directions and have only one question. on the last step when you add the alcohol back to it do you strain out the chaga?

  • wanda

    Hello Doug McEvoy! wanted to get your advice on making a tincture with Chaga..I have a gal jar full of ground chaga..left 2 inches..added 3 bottles of 50 proof vodka and it made it just damp? nothing to shake? would I add a gal of vodka to a gal of chaga and maybe use 2 gal jars..put half in each?

  • Donna Bourassa

    If one has to boil the powdered Chaga to get the benefits out of it, how does putting the powder in the smoothie work?

  • Donna Bourassa

    when talking temps are talking Celsius or Fahrenheit in these post?

  • Mary Rutkowski

    I steeped the chaga powder – and brewed with one tablespoon of tea powder and 8 cups of water (as directed by NH Mushroom Co. in wonderful Meredith/Lakes Region of NH- great folks)… they said I can’t re-heat – but can I drink it iced? Does that mess w/medicinal properties? Trying to use it to lower my cholesterol and help w/perimenopausal and thyroid issues… thoughts anyone? Thanks. Mary R.

  • Lori Beth Murray

    We have chaga in our woods …recently harvested some. Boiling it for so long does not damage the nutrient content/value?

  • Another Fad

    Just started with brewing Chaga (chunks) tea yesterday. Let me know if this is correct if you would please:
    Filtered my water thru a Brita Water pitcher 2 times (I read chlorine negates the beneficial affects); brought plain filtered water to a rolling boil in a large stainless steel pot..then reduced it down to a simmer and then added several nice chucks of Chaga and let it steep all day for 6 or 7 hours, over low heat being careful not to let it hit boiling point. Let the tea cool and placed it in canning bottles and placed in refrigerator. It’s a dark brown tea…not bitter like I thought it might be. Drank just under 8 oz in Am and again in evening. Added organic zylitol to sweeten.

    How long with the tea keep in the refrigerator?
    Should I freeze the tea that I won’t be drinking in the next, what, 3 or 4 days and the just gently warm it when more is needed?

    Thanks!

    • Cyndi W.

      I do mine in the crockpot. I throw in 5 or 6 chunks set it on low and leave it. I also add cardamom and star anise for flavor. Then strain it and freeze the chunks. It can be used 3 or 4 times. I then dry the chunks and crumble into my tincture to get out all the benefits. I have a 1 quart jar under the cupboard with an ongoing tincture. I strain about once a month into another jar and refrigerate. I also do cold chaga with lemon and honey for a cold summer drink. It lasts for weeks in the fridge.

    • Gazza

      I have heard Xylitol can even perforate the bowel lining.

      “There is some concern that extremely high doses for long periods of time (more than three years) can cause tumors. Xylitol can cause diarrhea and intestinal gas. It is probably safe for children as a medicine in amounts up to 20 grams per day.
      Special Precautions & Warnings:
      Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of xylitol during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use”

      http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-996-xylitol.aspx?activeingredientid=996

      • Another Fad

        Why would anyone take high doses of xylitol OR regular granulated sugar? I use xylitol in my coffee or to add a little sweetness in certain foods. Now I have heard things about certain types go xylitol, such as those processed using nickel. I use xylitol from organic North American Birch, grown in US. I’ve read its healthy for the gut as well as teeth and gums. You never want to start out eating a large amount of something your system isn’t used to.

        • Gazza

          1952 Journal of Nutrition* article: “Pending
          more favorable experimental data at lower levels of intake, it is
          deemed inadvisable to risk the incorporation of xylose in foods at any
          level of intake for extended periods of time.”

          *Published since 1928, The Journal of Nutrition (JN)
          was the first scientific journal created solely for publication
          of nutrition research. Contents include peer-reviewed research
          reports on all aspects of experimental nutrition, critical
          reviews….

          • Another Fad

            My advise to you…then don’t eat it! Dah! Why are you quoting an article from 1952 for god’s sake?

          • Gazza

            Perhaps this is a side effect of consuming a hydrogenated product: “My advise to you…then don’t eat it! Dah! Why are you quoting an article from 1952 for god’s sake?” – an aggressive response!!!

          • Melissa

            You really do just feel the necessity to being nasty person don’t you. How sad for your mother that she brought up something like you. Oh by the way bigot next time you decide to go after somebody perhaps you should think about it. You vile little thing.

        • Gazza

          Xylose to Xylitol – Hydrogenated foods are known to cause:

          Alzheimer’s Disease
          Behavioral irritability and aggression
          Cancer
          Diabetes
          Obesity
          Liver dysfunction
          Major depressive disorder

          • Another Fad

            I’ve researched xylitol and haven’t found those specific concerns. I believe outcome depends on how it’s produced and the quality of the product. Tell me…what do you find sucrose does? –>Causes diabetes & obesity, cardiovascular disease which goes on to cause all sorts of other systemic problems . I use very little of it…I guess you missed when I wrote: “why would anyone use high doses of xylitol or granulated sugar?”
            Over-indulgence in any food type will probably cause health issues, but especially simple carbs.

          • Gazza

            You are misinformed if you think that Sucrose and Fructose are a sole cause of Diabetes, Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease.

            The point of my response is that you are promoting a Hydrogenated product.

            Xylose to Xylitol – Hydrogenated foods are known to cause:

            Alzheimer’s Disease
            Behavioral irritability and aggression
            Cancer
            Diabetes
            Obesity
            Liver dysfunction
            Major depressive disorder

          • Gazza

            I eat a lot of fruit, including some dried fruits, which carry elevated levels of fructose and sucrose, albeit fibre matrix bound. I have no problems in maintaining a relatively lean body composition, even with minimal weekly exercise.

    • Heather McBride

      you can use homegrown stevia for sweetener /it ups sugar levels if down and downs them if up.I make it into a tinture also.Love it.

      • Another Fad

        I use something better than stevia….not a fan of it.

  • Once the tincture is complete how should I store this gallon of tincture and what is the shelf life?

    • Heather McBride

      you should be able to keep it forever /alcohol based is great .I do tintures and love it for my homgrown stevia too.

  • Robert Cornell

    Before you spend your hard-earned money on a tincture, read this article: https://oriveda.wordpress.com/what-you-should-know-before-buying-mushroom-supplements/#VI

    A genuine eye-opener!

  • Gazza

    You can also consider using organic grape alcohol for a Chaga dual/triple extract in Birch Water!! Freezing the chaga water mixture helps to break apart the Chitin cell structure, to make the extraction extremely beneficial.

  • Hi! I just make the double extraction and really happy about it! Id like to know what is the ratio in the end. 1:1? 18:1? 5:1? ,…
    Thanks!

  • Pinky

    I tried the first step and ended up with just wet Chaga nothing drained from it what am I doing wrong. I need help badly

  • Rick Klatt

    In Ontario all you can buy is 80 proof. How well
    will this work?

    • Surveilz

      Hi there, Quebec person here, 80 proof is just fine but if you’re in our neck of the woods you can pick up 94 proof at our SAQ which is like your LCBO right down to their price-gouging practices. The brand is called Global and it’s the highest proof you can find.

  • Robert Cornell

    Tinctures offer very bad value for money. You also have no clue what is in it – never saw a tincture that specified active ingredients.

    Think like this: a tincture is at least 70-90 % liquid (water/alcohol) (unless the bottle contains a thick slurry… then it might be 50%.
    This liquid is the carrier for the active ingredients, but useless in itself. 10 – 30% will be the mushroom powder / extract. In a 30 ml bottle, that will never be more than 3 – 4 grams. That amount in a powdered extract would cost you maybe $ 2…

    There is a good reason the manufacturers dry the Chaga extract after extraction (all powdered extracts are liquid, to start with – hot water extract, remember ?)…… it is daylight robbery to charge people money for something so overvalued.

  • O_S_S

    Silly question…. Once the tincture is finished and I want to make a chaga tea, do I just put a couple of teaspoons of the tincture into some water and bring it to a boil?

  • Margo

    Does anyone know how long the mushroom needs to dry before making tea or tincture?
    Thanks!

  • jujunewsandjunk

    Why a clay pot?

  • amanda Rosa

    Hello, what type or brand of vodka have people used? I have vegetable glycerin but it’s sweet in taste which i am not a fan of.

  • Jackie Lingenfelter

    can you do the hot water extraction first?